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Inconceivable EffectsEthics through Twentieth-Century German Literature, Thought, and Film$
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Martin Blumenthal-Barby

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780801478123

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801478123.001.0001

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A Strike of Rhetoric

A Strike of Rhetoric

Benjamin’s Paradox of Justice

Chapter:
(p.81) 4 A Strike of Rhetoric
Source:
Inconceivable Effects
Author(s):

Martin Blumenthal-Barby

Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9780801478123.003.0005

This chapter examines Walter Benjamin’s 1921 essay, “Toward a Critique of Violence.” Benjamin is concerned with law, law’s denial of its inherent violence (Gewalt), and the nature of juridical force and its so-called law-positing and law-preserving character. The law is characterized by how it violently establishes boundaries and discriminates between “legal” and “illegal,” in order to maintain these divisive moments of lawmaking. The law very much assumes its authority as a result of an ever-present latent threat—the threat of physical violence—that is directed against the people. The chapter elaborates on how the law is supposed to attain justice. However, given its latently violent nature, law appears to be incompatible with justice, which goes directly against the way democratic jurisprudence usually understands itself.

Keywords:   Walter Benjamin, Toward a Critique of Violence, law, violence, Gewalt, juridical force, justice, democratic jurisprudence

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